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The Pill Bug

Pill Bug, Roly Poly, Wood Louse, Miniature Armadillo, Sow Bug.    Any way you name them, these little tiny round creatures are cute to watch as they roll up into balls and are fascinating to children all over the world.  It’s fun to watch children at a local playground find these little brown creatures and touch them just to watch the little things curl up in an armored ball in order to protect their sensitive bellies.

Even though there is the word “bug” in their name and even though most people believe they are insects, they aren’t. These creatures are actually crustaceans – just like shrimp, lobsters and even barnacles.  They are simply land-dwelling crustaceans.

Because their bodies are not able to hold water and because they breathe with gills, they are usually found in moist, cool places.  If you pick up some logs, look under a rock or even under flowerpots, you may be able to find some.  This means that if they do find their way into your house, they will probably die unless they can find a moist, cool place to hang out.  If they do find their way inside, rest assured they will not lay eggs or bite humans.  Even though they are related to water-dwelling crustaceans, they will drown if placed in water.

They love to feast on decaying material.  This means you will often find them under rotten logs, in a compost bin or under rotten leaves.  If you have some outdoors in a compost bin or in a wooded area, they are not only OK, but help to improve the soil by breaking down decaying material into waste material.

However, you don’t want to find them in your garden or in a lush front yard.  If you do, this means that they are probably eating your young plants. To help keep the pill bug out of your garden, do not over-mulch or over-water.  Make sure to remove any dying or decaying plant material, such as leaves, grass clippings or plants.

The best way to keep them out of your house is to make sure they are not around the house.  This means keeping your yard clean and clear of debris.  If they do get into the house, you need to make sure there are not any areas that are moist and cool.  Look around pet dishes, laundry baskets, or any place that might make a good hiding place.

Fun pill bug fact:  Their blood is blue.  And if they are infected with a virus, they also turn bright blue or bright purple.

28 May

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